Murrysville police make 1st arrests using drone to track suspects
Murrysville police used a drone outfitted with an infrared camera to track two suspects who crashed a stolen car early Monday and fled into the woods.
Zymire Wilson, 20, of Springdale crashed about 4 a.m. along the westbound lanes of Route 22 near Rick’s Sports Bar, police said. Passenger Michael Paul Lipovsik, 19, of Pittsburgh was taken to AHN Forbes Hospital in Monroeville for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash.
A passing motorist told dispatchers that after the crash that severely damaged a blue Chevrolet Cavalier, two men ran from the car into nearby woods. Officer Matthew Panigal said the car registration came back as stolen in Springdale.
Panigal said he deployed the department’s drone and used the infrared camera that detects body heat.
About 4:45 a.m., Panigal reported that he “located what appeared to be two heat signatures that were moving east in the woods. After focusing on the two figures and lowering the drone closer to them, the figures began to run, and I was able to confirm that the two figures were in fact people.”
Panigal dispatched officers to the area where the men were hiding and set up a perimeter before Wilson and Lipovsik surrendered.
That police used a drone to track them was not lost on the suspects. According to Panigal, Wilson mentioned it as he was being questioned.
Wilson told officers after his arrest that he “didn’t realize that car was stolen until I saw you guys chasing us with that thing in the sky,” Panigal wrote in court papers.
In the vehicle’s back seat, officers said they found a new, large flat-screen television in its box.
Police Chief Thomas P. Seefeld said the department bought the drone in 2018.
“It’s our newest tool to combat crime,” he said.
Monday’s arrests were the first where officers used the drone, Seefeld said.
Wilson is charged with conspiracy, fleeing and eluding police, flight to avoid apprehension, failing to notify police of an accident, driving on a suspended license and receiving stolen property. He was arraigned Monday before District Judge Charles R. Conway, who ordered he be held in the county jail without bail because he has no current address.
Lipovsik is charged with conspiracy, fleeing and eluding police, flight to avoid apprehension, failing to notify police of an accident and receiving stolen property. He will be arraigned after his release from the hospital, police said.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .